United States

  • ‘Door is Wide Open’ for Negotiations with North Korea, US Envoy Says

    With US-North Korean diplomacy stuck in a ‘holding pattern,’ Stephen Biegun says North Korean negotiators must be empowered to discuss denuclearization

    US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on June 19 that “the door is wide open” for negotiations with North Korea, while admitting that US-North Korean diplomacy has been in a “holding pattern” since the summit between US President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February.

    “For both countries, denuclearization sits at the center of this discussion,” Biegun said, adding: “Our expectations have been made quite clear to the North Koreans, but Chairman Kim has also signaled to us during the course of [the Hanoi summit] how important this issue is to him.”


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  • No One Wins a War in the Gulf, but Iran Would Be the Biggest Loser

    Despite repeated assertions by regime officials in Tehran and key members of the Trump administration regarding a mutual desire to avoid war, tensions in the region continue to rise.

    With each side seemingly determined to push the other up to, but not beyond poorly defined red lines, an increasingly volatile situation is developing. Given the poor state of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran and an inability of the two nations to communicate at the military to military level beyond the most basic tactical contacts, the opportunity for even a minor miscalculation to develop into a much more serious strategic incident remains disturbingly high.

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  • Immigration and Tariffs: In Support of the Ongoing US-Mexico Border Diplomacy

    In an effort to head off the escalating tariffs on Mexican imports that US President Donald J. Trump has threatened to impose as of June 10, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) dispatched cabinet members to Washington for meetings to work through the complex issues surrounding migration flows from Central America.


    If imposed, these US tariffs would have major near-term economic and political costs for the United States and Mexico. Over the longer term, they could cause serious damage to a bilateral relationship that has progressively become more important since the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.

    There is plenty of responsibility to share for the immigration challenges being faced today on the US-Mexico border. 


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  • Trump in the UK: A Visit Well Spent

    US President Donald J. Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom this week was always going to be controversial. His approval ratings in the UK are not as bad as in other countries of the European Union, but his divisive and disruptive character meant that a sizable minority questioned whether he deserved full state visit honors almost a year after he was hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.


    Timing also became an issue, since by the time of the visit Theresa May, who originally conveyed the invitation two years ago, had become a lame duck prime minister. Moreover, Brexit, of which Trump is a big supporter and which was due to have taken place by March 29, remains unresolved and hugely divisive for both public opinion and politicians.


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  • Europeans Promise Political and Economic Steps to Salvage the Iran Deal

    Berlin — Europe will provide Iran with concrete economic and political support over the next two months in an effort to keep Iran compliant with the 2015 nuclear agreement.

    Europeans will also try to stave off the threat of war in or around the Persian Gulf and are rejecting US claims of an enhanced threat from Iran or Iran-backed forces in the region.

    These are the main points derived from my meetings this week with European officials who focus on the issue of Iran and Middle Eastern stability more broadly.


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  • On Iran, Justified US Fury Without an Endgame

    We’ve been here before. The Trump administration, like every US administration since Jimmy Carter was president, is dealing with a hostile Iran bent on undermining US and regional security interests across the Middle East and beyond. We had a brief three-year respite from Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, thanks to the Obama administration, but the Trump administration has put that period of relief in grave doubt. 
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  • Ending US-China Illusions

    This is the week that financial markets should abandon any remaining illusion that U.S.-China trade talks would be a time-constrained, tradable event that ultimately would result in a deal reassuring investors. Near dead is the notion that both sides would inevitably compromise because they so badly need an agreement for their own political and economic purposes. 

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  • After China, Will the EU Be the Next Target of Trump’s Tariffs?

    When Chinese negotiators reportedly walked back some of their commitments to structural changes within the framework of a US-China trade deal late last week, US President Donald J. Trump threatened to increase tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent despite ongoing negotiations — a threat that became a reality at midnight on May 10. China announced retaliatory tariffs and Trump said he would impose tariffs of 25 percent on $325 billion in Chinese imports to the United States that are not currently taxed if there is no trade deal within the next few weeks. Trump’s focus could next shift to a different front: a May 18 deadline to decide on how to react to a US Commerce Department report — a decision that could result in tariffs on imported cars and car parts. How might this week’s developments impact his decision? And what does this mean for the prospect of commencing formal US-European Union (EU) trade negotiations?
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  • Lipner in Haaretz: America Is Now a Perfect Bipartisan Incubator for Pathological Anti-Semitism


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  • US-Japan Trade Negotiations: A Narrow Scope is Key to Success

    US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi kicked off long-awaited trade negotiations between the United States and Japan in Washington this week. While both sides have agreed to accelerate the talks, their scope is unclear.


    Japan wants to focus on tariffs on industrial and agricultural goods, referring to the possible outcome as a Trade Agreement on Goods (TAG), but the United States insists on a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation—encompassing goods, services, investment, and anti-currency manipulation.

    Beyond these differences in scope, there are important divergences on substantive matters, not the least of which is Japan’s preference for a free trade framework as opposed to the United States’ managed-trade approach. As a consequence, the talks could make speedy progress if narrowly focused, but could drag on if Washington insists on a comprehensive agenda.


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